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Spinal Cord Cavernous Malformation

Last Updated: September 28, 2018

Schultze performed the first successful resection of a spinal cavernous malformation (CM) in 1912. With improvements in imaging, spinal CMs have been included in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with various spinal cord pathology.

Spinal cord CMs account for approximately 5% of CMs of the central nervous system. They most frequently present in the thoracic spinal cord. The goal of treatment is complete resection, which can be achieved with a low morbidity rate in the majority of patients.

Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis

Similar to brainstem and deep CMs, spinal CMs are more likely to present symptomatically than cerebral CMs. The clinical symptoms and their time course depend on the location of the CM in the spinal cord, the progression rate of the lesion, and presence or absence of hemorrhage.

Acute neurologic deficits occur with a recent hemorrhage. Patients may suffer from acute motor or sensory deficits, bowel and bladder dysfunction, and pain. Chronic myelopathy may result from an enlarging lesion or repeated small microhemorrhages.

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